Lots of people practice self-care, and there are lots of ways to do it. But whatever way people choose to promote their physical, mental, and emotional health, they’re probably ignoring anything financial. It turns out, your wallet needs to de-stress sometimes and your budget might need to pick up Yoga to get more flexible.
Financial self-care tips are surprisingly easy to find. There’s a lot of financial advice online, but most of it is very generalized and not all of it is trustworthy. Still, there’s good advice out there, in everything from podcasts to blogs like this one.
Unlike some of the other sources we mentioned, we’re not trying to reach out to just anyone. We want to help you, the AgFed member, get on track with your financial self-care. (And if you’re not a member yet, but you want to be, check out our website to see if you qualify.)
To do this, we’ve compiled our best advice into a set of MoneyDig financial self-care tips to get you on the road to stress-free finance land:
Stop ignoring the elephant in the room
Getting started might be one of the hardest parts of the financial self-care process. We say process, and not journey, because the goal is to develop good habits that you’ll keep throughout your whole life. But you’ll never develop those habits if you can’t work up the motivation to get started.
We get it – Finances are a major source of stress, anxiety and even embarrassment. The absolute last thing many people want to do is make their financial issues someone else’s problem. The thing is, two heads (or more) are better than one, and it’s a lot easier to help someone else with a problem than to handle things on your own. Talking to your partner, loved ones, or even a professional about your financial worries, hopes and dreams is often an important and necessary first step toward financial success.
Clearing the air is important, but even better is to write down your top short- and long-term financial goals. While it does feel good to finally talk about how you feel, you’re going to want a more concrete and preservable way to set out your financial intentions.
The pen is mightier than your words
So now you’ve written your objectives down on paper, but you can’t put that pen down just yet. Your goals don’t mean much if you have no way to follow through on them, and that means you need a way to measure your progress. We’ll admit, this next step can be difficult because it requires you to do something regularly:
You need to start keeping track of your daily income and expenses.
This step is crucial, because you need to know exactly how much money is entering and exiting your account. We recommend you start by checking your account every day, just to build up the habit. It’s also a lot easier to remember what you spent daily, instead of weekly. You can do this with our online banking service, our mobile banking app, or another one of our convenient services. This should only take a few minutes, and let’s be honest, you’re probably on your phone already.
Once you know what you’re earning and spending on a regular basis, you should be seeing the patterns and where you might be getting yourself into trouble.
Your next step is to build a budget, and that’s often easier said than done. You have to be realistic about how you can budget and save. It’s easy to plan ahead with a steady income, but if you’ve got a more gig-based income, you need to account for the ebb and flow of your spare cash.
Another often-heard piece of advice is to tackle your debt, and face it head-on. This is good advice, and a major step toward financial freedom for a lot of people. This could involve refinancing your student loans, which is a major concern for most college graduates. If you have credit card debt, or another loan with a higher interest rate, you might consider consolidating it into a personal loan instead. Even things like auto loans can be refinanced, and the money you save on any of the loans we’ve mentioned means more financial flexibility for future you.
Long-term beats short-term, every time
There are plenty of short-term changes you can make to get yourself out of hot water, but major financial self-care changes need to be long-term. Like we said before, you want to develop habits you’ll keep throughout your entire life. Your budget is like your diet, there’s no 30-day solution that will last.
As we already mentioned, taking out loans affects your future finances, so it’s important to know you’re borrowing wisely. Be sure to use tools like our financial calculators to make sure you’re prepared for payments over the entire loan term. Your income and expenses might change, so you need to know how much breathing room you have in your budget.
When you’re looking long-term you can’t avoid talking about retirement. Most people know what the experts say: Put as much into your retirement as early as possible. This can be hard to do while paying off debt at the same time, so make sure you look at your budget first. Even putting a little back helps a lot in the long run, so think small, but think long-term. And don’t forget to use our resources to see how you can get started.